Expect feeling a bit lost.
Expect to have people not understand.
Expect that you will be changed.
Expect to be patient with yourself.
Expect that you will be happy to see friends and family.
Expect that you will have no regrets.
Coming back home is not always easy. There are a few pieces of advice we can provide you, but until you live it, it’s hard to say how you will feel about returning. We’ve been collecting career breaker re-entry stories for years now – you can find them here in our Re-entry section. Or simply bookmark it and read them when you return home – I’m pretty sure you will be able to relate to these other career breakers in many ways. Each person’s experience is unique. However there are some things that hold pretty constant for all career breakers.
Reverse Culture Shock
Yes, even though you are returning to your home culture after experiencing many new different cultures, you still will be in some stage of shock. Odds are that the first time you walk back into a grocery store in North America you may be thrilled to be there, but you will also be a bit dazed and confused with all of the choices.
After JoAnna Haugen was gone in the Peace Corps for an extended period of time, she talks about how she combats the shock of being home.
Travel Changes You
Travel is a great way to learn more about yourself, in addition to world cultures. And as Paul Milton shares, the experience will certainly change you – for the better.
Craft Your Environment Again
It’s important to surround yourself by people who’ve gone through a similar experience and love travel. Remember the support group you identified while in the planning stages? They are still your support group and understand the same struggles that you may face when you return.
It’s helpful to stay active in Meet Plan Go events and the online traveler community – helping others who are planning their breaks provide you an outlet to share all of the knowledge you gained. It’s a great way to ‘pay it forward’.
And be warned…there will be people who aren’t very interested in hearing stories about your travels. Learn to identify them before you bore them to death and find people who do want to hear them.
It’s important it is to take time to process the emotions, questions, and concerns that come up after a career break abroad. Here’s some tips on how: